Traveling is something a lot of us look forward to — new sights, new foods, new music, new adventures! By the time we’re grown-ups, we have our travel techniques down to a perfect science, including taking our shoes off at TSA and listening to our go-to podcast for long drives.
However, your new baby still hasn’t caught up with the rest of the team. They have a bit of a way to go before they are travel experts, but we can’t blame them; we were like that ourselves a few years ago.
Traveling with a baby can present some unique challenges, but that’s why we have this list of unique solutions. Whether on the road or 30,000 feet up in the air, Tabeeze is here to share our twelve best tips for all of your growing family travels.
Road trips are a classic. Whether you’re driving to the sort-of-nearby county fair or two states over to meet Grandma for the first time, we’ve got you covered.
See which of these tips might work for you and your babe and give them a try. You might be astonished by how easily you get through this trip.
Test the Waters – Start Short
There is nothing wrong with a short trial run before strapping your baby into their car seat. A couple of weeks out from the big trip, start to bring your baby out on car rides with you – perhaps more than usual. If you’ve been shy about the prospect of them in the car, now is the time to start the experiment.
When you put babies or small children in the car with you a bit more often before the actual trip, you will start to gauge how they feel in the car, how they act, and any areas you need to look out for. The more context you can give yourself for how your baby acts in the car, the better. Because why not be as prepared as possible?
Drive While They Sleep
We know this might not be possible, but if your schedule allows, drive while your baby sleeps. Of course, we love our kids when they’re awake, but they require all our love and attention, which isn’t necessarily conducive to a long car ride.
To make this trip as fun as possible, try to drive while your new baby slumbers. Whether this means you start your road trip at nap time or head out closer to bedtime, a baby sleeping through some, most, or all of your road trip hours can ensure everyone is feeling well-rested upon arrival.
Plan Your Stops
Check the route you are taking for your road trip and plan out the rest stops you will use along the way.
This will be helpful in so many aspects. Whether it be a chance to stretch your legs, do a diaper change, feed your little one, or get out and get some fresh air, pre-planned stops will feel like a lifesaver. It’ll also save you that in-the-moment decision of what rest stops to pull off during the drive.
We know this sounds tough. How could you possibly be able to predict everything you could need?!
In general, less is more. The last thing you want is an unnecessarily full car on a road trip. When you need to pull out that clean onesie, you don’t want to be digging through all 18 of your children’s favorite Paw Patrol stuffed animals.
Make a list of absolute necessities and start there. Pack a suitcase or large diaper bag with a few extra diapers, changes of clothes, and a handful of toys (but not every toy).
Also, check in with your destination’s host to see what baby amenities they already have on deck. For example, a high chair might not be necessary if your hotel or older cousin already has some available.
This tip goes hand in hand with timing your stops along the road trip. Consider how often your baby needs to eat, and then structure those feedings around rest stops (or, even better, local parks) on your route. You can never truly predict when your baby will become hangry, but it’s always best to be prepared.
If your baby drinks formula, you might find it helpful to pre-fill bottles with the correct amount of formula ahead of time. Then, you can simply add water when it’s time for a snack. Buy an extra pack of the infant-safe water you use before you go.
If your child is eating solid foods, snacks might be your secret weapon; pre-portion their favorite healthy snacks in mess-safe containers for the ultimate twist on fast food.
This one might seem obvious, but you don’t want to leave your tiny road trip partner with no options for fun on the road trip. Bring a handful of their favorite toys or hitch up a tablet with their favorite movie to keep their attention while on the road.
A pro tip for this suggestion is to start your baby off with one toy and the rest with you in your seat. When they get sick of one, or their movie ends, or anything else, hand them what just might feel like a new and improved toy. Hopefully, this will change things up enough to keep them engaged throughout most of the ride. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Air Travel Tips
Your baby’s first flight will require some careful planning. Just like your first baby-on-board road trip, though, this experience can actually be ok. With a bit of forethought and some high-quality tips, you’ll be flying with ease!
Before booking your tickets, bring your baby to the pediatrician. Your kid’s doc might want to check their ears and general health before your family’s jet-setting adventure.
Get There Early
Yes, this will mean you have to keep your mini-traveler entertained and jovial for longer, but it also gives you all the extra time you might need to work through any first-time kinks of flying with a baby. It’s the perfect time for breastfeeding or giving your baby some prepared baby food or breast milk. You can also stash these items in your carry-on bag.
Especially since you will be toting more gear than usual, given all the extras you need in tow to fly with a baby, why not give yourself the extra time you need to avoid any stressors? The worst that can happen with an early arrival is some extra time spent at your gate before departure – and it could be much worse!
Do Curbside Gate Check-In
Again, you’ve got lots of baby gear when flying with young ones; we know it. There’s the bag full of pacifiers and teething rings, the travel stroller, and any other travel gear your baby needs.
Word to the wise: Take advantage of those curbside TSAcheck-in kiosks you see before you enter the airport. These save new parents so much time and a ton of headaches when navigating airport security, especially on international flights. This tip doesn’t only apply to flying with babies, either; make any family vacation simpler by checking in ahead of time.
Curbside check-ins usually allow you to drop your checked bags, and even maybe a high chair or umbrella stroller, at the door. Now, you will not have to worry about waiting in a long indoor check-in line and can ditch all of your bulkiest items before even entering the airport. Just remember to call the airport or your airline ahead of time to confirm.
Wear Your Baby (and Anything Else You Can)
Keeping your arms and hands as free as possible during travel is key. You’ve got enough to handle at the airport; make your baby as simple to carry as possible. More free hands mean more bandwidth to carry luggage, briefcases, or the coffee you might want (or need and deserve).
In addition, most planes come equipped with a changing table, saving you some stress. If not, you may want to invest in a diaper bag equipped with a changing pull-out.
Even if the airplane bathroom has a changing table, no one has ever accused plane bathrooms of being roomy. Optimize what your baby will wear to make changing a dirty diaper as fast as possible.
For example, the GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit is the only onesie that can be removed without pulling the garment over a baby’s head. The nickel-free, fumble-free snaps will ensure that your diaper changing at 30,000 feet is stress-free, mess-free, and chemical-free.
Fly During Sleepy Time
Similar to our theory on road trips, attempt to schedule flights at times your little one might need their Zzzs. Whether during nap time, in the evening, or a red-eye, this increases the chance that baby snoozes in the sky. This tip applies to young children as well.
Feed During Take-off and Landing
Do you know that awful pain you get in your ears when a plane takes off and lands? Yeah — air pressure changes are no fun, especially on long-haul flights.
If we, as adults, don’t enjoy that sensation, it’s a pretty safe assumption that our children won’t either. Adults get told to chew gum or suck on a lollipop to soothe this sensation, so it makes sense that you might want to feed your baby at take-off and landing.
Feeding our babies at this point allows them to suckle and engage in chewing motions that will alleviate the pressure in their ears. With some assistance from a bottle, nursing, or snack time, we can save our families a lot of pain and tears from cabin pressure.
Book Seats Next to Each Other
Yes, you won’t get the privacy you might want, but having extra seats that put you and baby next to your travel partner has its perks. If you’re someone who can give up that privacy to the aisle seat, family travel can become much smoother. You can always ask the flight attendant if you can move to an empty seat while on a low-attendance domestic flight.
When you get seats across the aisle from one another, your baby can have a change of scenery every now, giving them a whole new world view (literally). This can be especially helpful if you know your little one tends to be fussy or likes to look all around from a window seat.
The Road Carefully Traveled
Traveling with babies never goes exactly as planned and there’s only so much “expect the unexpected” that you can attempt to expect.
Like all things in parenthood, traveling with your newest co-pilot requires an impressive to-do list but an equally impressive sense of humor about the whole matter. Your baby may cry, have a diaper blowout, or vaguely resist cooperating. (Something tells us that the stork didn’t have this much trouble.)
In a couple of years, your baby will be the world’s best travel buddy. Until then, we’re here to help.